An interesting exhibition is currently on at New York’s Foley Gallery where Sarah Wilson combines photojournalism and portraiture to document prom night for the students of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
The press release for the exhibition is true in that it is certainly inspiring to see a group of marginalised teenagers enjoy an American rite-of-passage. Wilson has worked with the blind community for many years and understands that this is an important ritual in which they have a right to participate. Yet I can’t get my mind off a darker narrative that underpins these full-colour images.
This narrative gives rise to many questions that I would probably not externalise outside the safe confines of the internet: namely, what’s the point of a blind prom? Why do they dress up if they can’t even see each other. Is the photographer exploiting these children simply for the sake of interesting subject matter? Are they dressing up for themselves or their parents? And am I a bad person for daring to ask these questions?